Take That, Bigots: New VA Gov Reverses Discriminatory Old Policies

Virginia Statehouse
Virginia Statehouse

It’s a new day in Virginia, where incoming Governor Terry McAuliffe has some very pleasant attitudes indeed regarding the queers.

McAuliffe and his rival Ken Cuccinelli have different opinions on a great many topics (okay, on pretty much all topics), but workplace protections for LGBTs is at the top of the list. During the campaign, he pledged, “My first executive order, will be the same as Governor Warner and Governor Kaine before — to outlaw any discrimination in Virginia based upon any issue.”

And gee whiz, we found a politician who actually makes good on promises, because now he’s signing a trans-inclusive workplace protection order for state employees.

This is quite a turnaround from the bad old days of the former administration. Unpleasant outgoing Governor Robert McDonnell actually removed protections for LGBT employees, which is some pretty serious dedication to being a villain.

But as bad as McDonnell was, Cuccinelli might have been even worse. This is the guy who once write to Virginia’s institutions of higher learning, ordering them to eliminate any policies that protected LGBT employees. So, our condolences on your loss, Ken. Couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy.

Of course, non-public employees still aren’t covered. A few municipalities (Williamsburg, Alexandria, Virginia Beach) offer employment protection based on sexual orientation, which is a nice start, but far from complete. McAuliffe has his work cut out for him if he wants to be Governor of a state where it isn’t kind of scary to be gay.

Meanwhile, AFER’s federal lawsuit against Virginia’s marriage ban is moving ahead. It’s now fully briefed, which means it’s up to the courts to come up with a date for the next hearing. Virginia has some particularly bad laws when it comes to relationship recognition (no civil unions allowed!) so this is yet another issue in urgent need of fixing.

The good news: McAuliffe’s in our corner on the marriage issue as well. See you in court!